Saturday, October 29, 2005

Serenity, the sci-fi conundrum, and the role of belief

I saw Serenity today in the brand new renovated Rainbow Roxy Theatre here in Saskatoon. They've done a great job of bringing a historical landmark back to life there. If you are in the Saskatoon area, check it out. This viewing did produce a few observations. I realized that I like occasionally entering a movie with no expectations; I knew to expect a sci-fi movie, but beyond that had not really watched any trailers or done much reading. And I was pleasantly surprised: not on a level like The Matrix back when it came out, but more along the same lines as when I saw Pitch Black - a movie that was decently made that told a decent story that entertained me along the way. Speaking of sci-fi movies, watching Serenity also made me think about the genre of the space-action sci-fi shoot-em-up, and I wonder how much longer that genre can/will last before it becomes endlessly derivative. The first hour of the movie was especially captivating, since there were still characters being introduced and plot points being clarified, but once there was the big revelation in the middle of the movie, it became straight-forward and fairly predictable. It was still entertaining; I just knew pretty much exactly what was going to happen as a result of knowing the genre. The movie was worth a viewing: not the greatest movie I have ever seen, but not making me want to gouge my eyes out either.
Another interesting observation that came out of the film for me was the role of belief. Although it was not featured prominently, there was evidence of Christianity having remained a part of humanity, which is unusual for the genre. But apart from that, much of the talk of the movie focused on belief and its role in our lives. At one point one character asks the main protagonist if he believes in something, and whether he is willing to die for that belief, and his response is to act on that belief. But what is interesting is that that question is raised throughout the movie; it is only when he is confronted with no option but to choose that he finally acts on that belief. In many ways, this is reflective of us as Christians; we say we believe, and it is easy to do so when times are not difficult or not as difficult as they could get. Then there comes a real testing point in which we must act on that belief to validate it; that is that point at which inaction essentially invalidates the belief that is of necessity linked to the action in order to prove it as having been believed. What makes this climactic scene more interesting is that the other man is also acting based on his belief (earlier in the movie he is referred to as a "believer"), and the two belief systems clash. They were both driven to this point by their particular beliefs, and as I study other religions, I begin to think more and more that God uses those belief systems to bring them closer to him somehow. There comes a crisis point at which a certain path must be chosen, but as the spiritual leader advises the protagonist, "I don't care what you believe - just believe." At some fundamental level, belief in some cause produces a positive result, according to this film, and I think I would tend to agree with that hypothesis. Belief is the first step...just believe.

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